Introduction to game development
In the broadest sense by game development is meant the process of designing and creating a game, but today mostly refers to the production of video games, which also includes computer games. The construction of a video game is principally done by a game developer, which can be everything from a single independent person to a big team of specialist with a company behind and funded by a publisher.
Game development team
Long gone are the days when a single programmer could handle all tasks in game development for state-of-the-art games on his own, though many hobbyist programmer still develop games alone, what is often called the one-man-army. Modern video game development involves a wide variety of skills, which is usually done by a full staff of specialist, or even a team of specialists. Generally, a modern game development team consists of:
- Producers - manages the development, finances, contracts, milestones, publishing, final decisions
- Game Designer - develops the concept, layout, gameplay, and directs the staff
- Programmers - implements the game
- Artists - creates game art, models, animations
- Level Designers - creates levels, missions, challenges
- Sound Engineers - composes music, designs sound effects, lip syncing
- Authors - creates realistic characters & background stories
- Testers - analyzes games to defects
- Writers - website copy, technical documentation & non-technical user manuals
Game development cycle
The course of a development for a game varies depending on the project and it's given circumstances. An Open Source production most likely differs dramatically from an industry production Nevertheless an ordinary development consists of several core phases, and is more or less pronounced depending on its type.
The first thing at all is to identify why making the game and the aim of development, and defines a position in an appropriate business context, even when making profit is not of concern. If done, the idea of the game will be created, and should reconcile with the business context. This usually includes game design, and describes the concept and gameplay. A straight design at least includes documenting the game design and technical design, though this are living documents and never really finished until the game is complete. Sometimes the development of a prototype and sketches are also done, and often required if a publisher is behind.
After the preparations are done, the game development process advances into the production. Maybe a fully staffed team of skilled specialists may work on the implementation, and creates source code, graphics, sound, music, levels, etc. Usually the primary aim is create a first level, which also takes a lot of time, because development tools must be created or the game design may change and refine. Later, when everything has a much clearer vision, level design is usually much faster, and older assets and features may become obsolete. Once the game is playable also testing starts, and put new feature through their paces.
Sometimes game development underlies a production schedule. While Open Source development usually has no reason to work under pressure, commercial game development usually have to pursue a scheme. Nevertheless, using a (non-)committal schedule called Milestones is a common strategy, and defines new supported features for the next deadline. Often, projects discontinue because a Milestone is not reached.
Once the game is complete and is ready to distribute, what often takes years, it still could need maintenance and maybe adds new features, too.